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Suffolk Bitesize: Your weekly council round-up, with news for Ipswich Sudbury and the county’s roads

Here’s some of what your representatives across the county have been up to since Monday:

Suffolk County Council’s (SCC) finances have improved but are not out of the woods just yet.

The latest second quarter financial statement for the Suffolk County Council revealed an £11m improvement in comparison to the previous report in September when the council announced it would have to take £56.9m from its ‘rainy day’ reserves.

Richard Rout, deputy leader of the Suffolk County Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Richard Rout, deputy leader of the Suffolk County Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council

Now, forecasts have the council dipping into the reserves for £37.9m in total.

The improvement has come from an unexpected £10m surplus from the sale of energy as well as an increased income of £7m from business rates.

Councillor Richard Rout, the cabinet member for finance and environment, also expects to see the saving measures which have been put in place since September to show results by the quarter three report.

A central Government accounting mistake could cost Suffolk schools £5m next year.

Copleston High School, in Ipswich, is set to lose out the most at nearly £95,000 from its budget.

The mistake, which works out at £370m nationally, comes from an underestimation in the number of pupils, leading to only a 1.9 per cent increase in spending per pupil, down from 2.7 per cent.

Labour candidate for Ipswich, Jack Abbott, said this indicates ‘mathematical incompetence’ from the Government.

Jack Abbott
Jack Abbott

Ipswich MP, Tom Hunt, said he remains committed to addressing a national funding formula which ‘doesn’t work well for Suffolk’, as well as the ‘variety of factors’ pressuring school budgets.

An inquiry into the mistake was ordered by the Government alongside the apology.

Sudbury’s ‘heat hub’ has received over £700k in funding ahead of the massive 1,150-house development’s third phase.

The heat pump housing estate will be located to the northeast of the Chilton Woods development and provide low-carbon heating for nearly 1,000 new homes.

The hub is expected to provide 80 per cent carbon savings after 2025.

This comes as the 1,150-strong housing development — which also includes a new primary school — is gearing up for its third phase, with a reserved matters application for 149 homes coming up.

The application will give councillors the chance to consider the development’s access, appearance, landscaping, layout, and scale provisions.

Babergh’s acting leader, Councillor John Ward said the project ‘is an excellent model’ for how developers can reduce emissions.

Mid Suffolk Council’s insulation scheme to ‘keep people out of fuel poverty’ is set to launch next week.

The £2m scheme will offer up to £3,500 per property for the installation of ‘simple energy efficiency measures’ at no cost to the residents.

Implemented by Aran Insulation, these will include loft insulation and clearance, cavity wall insulation, and draft proofing.

Councillor John Whitehead raised concerns over making sure there is a clear benefit to the property’s energy rating, otherwise, it would be akin to ‘throwing money away’.

Councillor Richard Winch, who brought the scheme forward, guaranteed the home selection process would be careful.

He added the scheme would help residents ‘save money, save energy, and lower their carbon footprint’.

The scheme will launch next Tuesday, November 14.

A road surfacing investment of £10m into local roads in villages and residential areas has been approved.

Councillor Paul West, who moved the proposal, said the investment will focus on smaller roads ‘in need of some love and attention’ and cover ‘every corner of Suffolk’.

Although the investment was welcomed by councillors in the opposing benches, councillor Keith Welham pointed out would only address a proportion of an already ‘deteriorating network’, and Suffolk needed a plan to bring ‘all residential roads’ up to standard.

But councillor West said it was important the council works ‘within what’s financially available’.

The £10m will be invested through borrowing and add a £688,000 pressure on an already struggling budget in which certain services are at risk of cuts.